Emotional intelligence is defined as an individual’s ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity. Emotional intelligence is often referred to as emotional quotient (EQ) as the terms are interchangeable.
Regardless of where a person is today on the EQ scale, emotional intelligence can be improved. It takes a concentrated effort, a desire to become more aware and an active attempt at restraint when facing conflict. But with a combination of awareness and self-discipline, EQ can change relatively quickly. While there are many different factors that can influence EQ, today we observe 4 ways to improve emotional intelligence.
Research shows that successful leaders and superior performers have well developed emotional intelligence skills. This makes it possible for them to work well with a wide variety of people and to respond effectively to the rapidly changing conditions in the business world. In fact, a person’s emotional intelligence may potentially be a better predictor of performance success than intelligence alone.
Emotional Intelligence is accurately measured through assessments. A person answers a series of questions, and in doing so, earns a specific score for each of the five individual sub-categories that make up EQ. Additionally, they receive an overall EQ score. Just as a person can increase their IQ through learning, a person can improve their EQ scores by focusing on specific areas of EQ.
- Becoming more self-aware
The more you become aware of your emotions and drives, the more you can control those things. Part of being self-aware is understanding the effect you have on others. Self-awareness boils down to being able to recognize when you are in a proper frame of mind.
Self-awareness starts within each person and it starts with a series of questions. To hone in on your self-awareness, ask yourself:
- How am I feeling?
- At this very moment, do things feel easy or difficult?
- Do I have a smile or a frown on my face, and why?
You cannot address any social aspect of EQ without first being aware of what’s going on inside yourself. If your mindset is altered to the negative, chances are your interactions will be, as well. Once you are consciously aware of what’s going on inside of you, you can move on to the next stage of emotional intelligence, self-regulation.
- Increasing self-regulation
Self-regulation speaks to the ability to suspend judgement in a moment of stress and thinking before acting. Defined, it is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods. Self-regulation is a person’s ability to modify their own mood when they become self-aware of a disruptive mindset.
I don’t have to go far to find an example of someone who has benefitted from learning a little self-regulation. For years, I was the poster child of how not act when put in stressful situations. As someone who is honest to a fault and doesn’t like to bottle emotions, I had a propensity to voice my opinions regardless of whether or not they were solicited. And, if I felt I was in any way under attack, those opinions would turn into defenses. Rational conversation could quickly turn into verbal sparring as a defense mechanism.
So many times I realized, much too late, that if I just let a little time go by, what seemed like a crisis then would later become an afterthought. This realization is an example of increasing one’s self-regulation. The process is two-fold: the act of first recognizing the need and then acting upon it for the greater good.
A few questions to ask yourself include:
- Does this issue need to be addressed right this minute?
- In the grand scheme of things, how important is this really?
- Am I able to walk away from the situation to gain time and perspective?
- Becoming more socially aware
A person with social awareness has the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people and how their words and actions affect others. It’s the ability to assess how they are communicating or may communicate with others.
We may have the best of intentions. We wake in the morning and we want to treat everyone with respect. We want to be thought of in a positive way and plan to experience nothing but friendly interactions. And that all goes out the window when stress arrives. Whether the people we are communicating with are the cause of the stress or not, communicating when you’re not in the proper frame of mind can come with consequences and negative outcomes.
It can be as slight as facial expressions, mannerisms, body language or tone of voice. An observant person can gauge our mood and attitude before we even say our first word! Just like a math equation that has a definite starting and end point, EQ works in a similar fashion. Once a person becomes self-aware first and self-regulated next, they need to take those skills and use them outwardly in social interactions. These skills come in handy especially during stressful situations.
In trying to become more socially aware, ask yourself the following questions:
- What does my outward expression say to someone?
- How would someone interpret my body language?
- Am I projecting my emotions through my tone of voice?
- Improving social regulation
Social regulation involves the ability to influence the emotional clarity of others through a proficiency in managing relationships and building networks.
It’s very easy to be the life of the party when everyone is having a good time. A person with strong social regulation can be just as well liked and respected during times of stress because they are able to control their reactions to the stress stimuli.
Think back over your career and picture a boss or bosses for which you had a great detail of respect. What were some of their characteristics? It’s likely they were fair, respectful, even-keeled and thoughtful. Chances are, what you’ll recall mostly about them is their consistent nature by which they communicated to you and your coworkers. Their consistency had a calming effect on you.
The more a person can regulate their social situations, the more successful they will likely be. It’s pretty simple really. Do you buy from a salesperson who is pushy or one who makes a personal connection with you? Do you go to a doctor that treats you like a number, or one that takes time to get to the heart of the matter? The better our interactions with others, the more successful we will be at whatever we want to accomplish, regardless if that’s closing a big sale or making a new friend.
Questions to ask yourself include:
- Am I being respectful at this moment?
- Am I hearing the entire story before passing judgement?
- Is it possible that things aren’t really as they might appear to be on the surface?
Evolution of EQ
Just as we strive to increase our knowledge, wealth and interesting life stories, we can increase our EQ with a conscious effort. Bad habits are not formed overnight nor are they fixed that quickly. It doesn’t matter what our upbringing was, for whom we worked or what life was like on the playground when we were kids. It’s up to each of us to make a conscious decision to improve our EQ. If we take the lead and put in the effort, our EQ will rise, and very likely, also will our success in all walks of life.